Redesign Story: Washington College

Check out the WC Homepage

March 28, 2012

“The goal of this redesign project is to make the Washington College site more like WC itself.”

President Jason Pontius and Designer Janie Porche of White Whale Web Services present the preliminary homepage design in Hynson Lounge.On Monday, Jason Pontius and Janie Porche, two principals with White Whale Web Services, visited Washington College to present the preliminary design for our new homepage. The look is very different from our current page, but the concept is driven by things we are already doing. Jason, president and founder of White Whale, described the new site as “conversation-driven design.”

If you were unable to attend the presentation, we encourage you to explore the mock ups. Both a video and written summary of the presentation are available below as well. Please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section or email me (Lindsay Bergman, 

Design mockups

Click to experience the scrolling effect of the bold, image-focused design. The links are inactive, and the “features bar” only expands for Literature & Creative Life in this demo.

Screenshot of Mockup Screenshot of Mockup 

Check out the main mockup or alternates 1 or 2.

Video of design presentation

You can watch White Whale’s presentation, including the question and answer portion, below.


This summary is based on my notes and the video. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or email me (

President Jason Pontius and Designer Janie Porche of White Whale Web Services present the preliminary homepage design in Hynson Lounge.The new design is meant to show rather than tell. It will feature pictures, projects and stories about real people doing interesting things. While the design illustrates our unique character, it also invites users to experience life at WC. Large pictures with enticing titles draw visitors in. In the actual design, each picture will link to a related story, which will also be a portal to related content. More people will have the opportunity to share their stories, and the homepage (and website) will feel more like a day in the life at WC rather than a marketing piece.

Although the design itself is fresh and cutting edge, the navigation remains standard. Three aspects of the design remain horizontal: the main navigation, the “features bar” and the footer. The “features bar” acts as a gateway not only to the Centers of Excellence but is also a portal to certain institutional strengths. For example, clicking on “Literature & Creative Life” opens a door for the Rose O’Neill Literary House, but also provides an opportunity for a featured spotlight, links to related academic programs, and a newsfeed of related information. The “features bar” also includes audience-specific links that will be easily maintained by the content management system. The footer holds frequently accessed links such as human resources and Miller Library, but there is also a tip of the hat to our heritage with a quote from Rules of Civility and a picture of George Washington.

How Will It Work?

Without delving into the more technical aspects of LiveWhale CMS (I’ll leave that for the Whales), I will say that its implementation will make the design sustainable. The site will be easier to use and a submit form (similar to Share Your Story! on this redesign blog) makes it easy for any member of the community to submit pictures and stories. Faculty and staff who are updating areas of their site with content that might be relevant to the homepage will be able to use a “suggest” option to let the folks in charge of the homepage know about it. When the community participates in creating content, the homepage and the site itself will be a more accurate reflection of the WC experience. 

Your Questions, Comments and Concerns

The “conversation-based” design cannot exist without conversation. Please let us know what you think so far.